July 14, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court barely had time to announce their decision declaring eight of the state’s congressional districts illegal before the political musical chairs began vibrating.
On Thursday, the high court declared that Rep. David Jolly’s (R) Pinellas County seat, among others, is in violation of the state’s 2010 voter-passed redistricting initiative, which put limits on partisan map drawing. Former governor, Charlie Crist, a Pinellas County resident who has either lost races or was headed for defeat in both the Republican and Democratic parties, and even as an Independent, is reportedly considering running for Congress should the Tampa Bay re-draw favor the Dems. Rep. Kathy Castor’s (D-Tampa) 14th District, that encompasses the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, was also invalidated.
The court returned the map to the legislature with orders to re-construct eight districts from around the state, four Republican-held seats and four Democratic. The number of additional tangentially affected districts could mean that virtually the entire state will be redrawn within the next 100 days. Since the map is headed back to the legislature, majority Republicans will again have the redistricting pen, but the new final product must be submitted to the judiciary for approval. The new plan will take effect for the 2016 elections. Continue reading >
July 10, 2015 — Public Policy Polling tested the electorate in their home state of North Carolina (July 2-6; 529 registered North Carolina voters; 288 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters; 286 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters), a monthly practice for the firm, and detected a new Republican leader moving to the forefront.
Though the GOP candidates are tightly bunched here as polls detect in all key primary states – meaning the 16 tested candidates fall within 16 points from top to bottom – the PPP North Carolina survey finds that businessman Donald Trump has captured first place. This is the first study producing such a result.
Trump attracts 16 percent support from the North Carolina polling respondents with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker each four points behind at 12 percent. Ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee closely follows with 11 percent, while Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio poll nine percent apiece, and Sen. Rand Paul registers seven percent. The remaining nine candidates fall between 0 and six percent with two contenders, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and ex-New York Gov. George Pataki, each finding no supporters within this North Carolina polling sample. Continue reading >
July 9, 2015 — As expected, Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood (R) cruised to an easy special election primary victory Tuesday in the vacant Peoria-anchored congressional district. Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R) March resignation created the vacancy, which is the only unrepresented seat in the entire US House.
LaHood, whose father, Ray LaHood, represented the seat for 14 years before becoming President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, topped 69 percent of the vote against two weak GOP opponents who spent less than $50,000 combined on their campaigns. Democrats officially nominated educator Rob Mellon, an Army Reserve officer who lost his party’s congressional primary in 2014.
LaHood will easily defeat Mellon, but must wait until Sept. 10 for the next vote in what is an unusually long special election cycle. His eventual victory will bring the House party division back to 247R-188D, the spread generated on Election Night 2014. Continue reading >
June 10, 2015 — Last October, an Eastern District of Virginia special three-judge panel declared VA District 3 (Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Richmond/ Norfolk) unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the draw packed African Americans, thereby diluting the black community’s influence in other districts even though the map was constructed to the dictates of the Voting Rights Act and previous court decisions.
The Republican appeal went to the US Supreme Court, which in turn sent the congressional plan back to the court of origination in order to determine the next course of action. The Supreme Court is using an Alabama state legislative case to chart new ground in relation to minority district redistricting and appears to be returning maps from cases before them back to the lower courts with instructions to add specifics.
The federal Virginia panel took action late last Friday and sent the map to the legislature with instructions to re-draw the 3rd District. As is the case with all redistricting, changes to one CD will affect at least two and possibly several districts. Most likely, Rep. Randy Forbes (R) will find his 4th District significantly changed, much to his chagrin. Continue reading >
June 3, 2015 — Alcorn County Prosecuting Attorney and Iraq War veteran Trent Kelly (R), as expected, easily won the northern Mississippi special MS-1 congressional election last night to succeed the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R). The three-term congressman passed away in early February.
Kelly racked up approximately 70 percent of the vote against former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn, Jr, (D). He won the endorsement of Rep. Nunnelee’s widow in the May 12 jungle primary helping him qualify for yesterday’s run-off election, and claimed 20 of the district’s 22 counties last night. He will immediately be sworn in, and serve the remainder of the current term. Rep-Elect Kelly will assuredly seek a full two-year term in the regular 2016 cycle.
The 1st District occupies Mississippi’s northern quadrant and houses the south Memphis (TN) suburbs, and the Tupelo and Columbus areas. Special election turnout unofficially tallied 98,254 voters, but the final canvass could produce totals closer to 100,000.
Zinn had little chance. With virtually no money, in a next to hopeless political minority, and spending his career in politics well away from the 1st District in the state’s capital city of Jackson, it was a foregone conclusion that Kelly would be victorious when he topped a field of 11 other Republican candidates in the May vote.
Only one House vacancy remains, that in IL-18, the seat then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R) resigned in March. A replacement will be chosen in September. The House now stands at 246 Republicans, 188 Democrats, with the one vacancy.